Horses in California, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing equestrian-related arts, events, and physical wellness to the San Francisco Bay Area. Horses in California, Inc. operates the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program and hosts the annual Polo in the Park charity event.
In the early 1980â€™s, San Francisco residents Hugh and Melba Meakin had a dream of starting an organization that would expose people in their community to the glorious psychological and physical benefits of horseback riding, horse-related arts and equestrian sports. Indeed, they created the non-profit organization Horses in California, Inc. in 1984 and started off the year by hosting a world-class show jumping and grand prix event called â€śThe San Francisco Show Jumping Grand Prix and Equestrian Festivalâ€ť. This was a three-day event held at the Marin Headlands.
In 1981, the physical and psychophysical benefits of horseback riding gained national attention when James S. Brady, Press Secretary to President Ronald Reagan, was shot in the head during a failed assassination attempt on the President and used horseback riding as a means of physical therapy during his recovery. Hugh and Melba Meakin met with Brady at this time and were given the honor of using his name for a riding program that the Meakins were opening to provide therapy alternatives to disabled children. Thus, the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program for special children was founded, and has since helped over 200 youths find wellness and happiness through horsemanship and horseback riding lessons.
After 27 years of hosting Polo in the Park, Horses in California, Inc. is continuing to help disadvantaged and disabled children as well as bring awareness of horses, horse-related arts and equestrian sports to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program for children with autism and other special needs is the main beneficiary of Polo in the Park, and provides children in the San Francisco Bay Area with horsemanship and horseback riding lessons as a physical or social therapy alternative.
The â€śBrady Programâ€ť has helped over 200 mentally or physically challenged children under the direction of personnel who have been certified and insured by the Equine Associated Growth and Learning Association. Our students suffer from autism, cerebral palsy, muscle weakness, sight and hearing impairment, learning disabilities or social disorders. Each student participates in a specially designed program that is individually suited to his or her needs. Children learn anatomy, grooming and riding as they begin to develop friendships with the horses and other riders. The emotional and spiritual benefits of horseback riding for the disabled are profound and become self-evident when you witness a child experiencing the joy of horses for the very first time. The children gain a love and respect for animals, better self-confidence, improved social skills, increased joint mobility and enhanced neural development. We use specially trained Norwegian Fiord therapy horses at weekly lessons in Bercut Equitation Field, Golden Gate Park San Francisco.
The “Brady Program” has received a Certificate of Recognition from the California Legislature Assembly and Award of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco.
Polo in the Park is the primary fundraiser to cover operating costs of the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program, and has been held annually since 1984 in San Francisco.
Horses in California, Inc. hosts several other events throughout the year as secondary fundraisers to support the James S. Brady Therapeutic Riding Program. This is an elegantÂ event with live music, buffet dinner and dancing under the stars.